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2nd October 1970, Page 40
2nd October 1970
Page 40
Page 41
Page 42
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Page 40, 2nd October 1970 — COACH
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Keywords : Buses

FOR its new YRQ coach chassis Vauxhall Motors Ltd has chosen an engine position which avoids the access problems sometimes associated with front mounting and yet retains the conventional—and I think preferable—coolant circulation of an upright engine. The Bedford is certainly unusual among underfloorengined chassis in having a vertical power unit.

When I tested the YRQ fitted with Duple Viceroy 45-seat luxury body on operational trial just before the Earls Court Show, I found the noise level inside the body exceptionally low. And at £2807 ex works the chassis is the lowest-priced unit on the market. Another good point is that the clear chassis at the front is ideal for wide and low entrances needed on one-man-operated

stage carriage vehicles. (A full description of the vehicle appeared in CM September 4.)

I consider this coach to be among the quietest passenger vehicles I have ever driven, on a par with the usually quite expensive rear-engined types. The redistribution of weight achieved by moving the engine from ahead of the front axle—as it was in the YRQ's predecessor the YAM—to a point mid-way between the front and rear axles, has resulted in a much more constant level of ride between the fully laden and unladen conditions. The VAM was inclined to pitch when lightly laden.

For the driver, near hairline steering assists him to negotiate, without undue concern, narrow twisting lanes with high, bodydamaging kerbs and banks. When he has to drive through a small gap between two

other vehicles he need have no second thoughts as to whether he will make it. However, the gearchange mechanism is disappointingly uncertain, while the brakes are sensitive, and one only achieves smoothness after some practice.

The brake units have been considerably redesigned and the new vehicle features much stiffened shoes and drums which, it is claimed, when tested alongside vehicles fitted with the old-type units on a service in the Derbyshire Peaks, returned in excess of 200 per cent greater operating life. Certainly during my test of the vehicle I was in no doubt that the brakes were adequate for the job. There was no evidence of fade even when reducing speed quite smartly from 70 mph to a standstill, and there was always enough extra "pedal" in hand to take care of emergencies. The spring-powered parking brake, applied by moving a very small lever to the driver's offside, saves him a lot of effort.

The vehicle's performance is similar to that of the VAM. Acceleration from 0 to 20 mph in 8.6 sec was only 0.3 sec more than that of the VAM. However, turning to the direct-drive figures, the results of the extra power achieved by alterations to the fuel injection system on the engine gave us 5 sec off all the times recorded. On the highspeed motorway run the YRQ was nearly 3 mpg more economical than the VAM, and at 10 mph higher average speed.

The effortless progress made by the YRQ gave me the impression that the figures were not so good as those obtained with the VAM two and a half years ago, and it was not until I returned to the office and compared the results of the two tests that the significance of the noise reductions became apparent.

All went exceptionally smoothly on the operational trial. For this I used the CM short route from Hemel Hempstead via M1 /M45 to Coventry, A46 to Kenilworth, Warwick, Stratford, Broadway, Stowon-the-Wold on to A44 and A424 to Burford, then A40 to High Wycombe, A404, 416, 414 and 41 back to Hemel Hempstead via Amersham, Chesham and Berkhamsted. The run up MI was uneventful although noticed that there was a good deal of wind noise around the front of the body. Along this stretch of road I tried out variously situated passenger seats, finding them equally comfortable. I noticed that the two heaters in the vehicle were fitted beneath the seats which means that while passengers in those particular seats may get uncomfortably hot when the heaters are on, those seated farthest away from the units may get little or no benefit from them.

Apart from the metal end-facings of the luggage racks which fall at face level for the passenger boarding the coach-I considered the body to be finished to an acceptably high standard. No sharp edges were to be found anywhere and all the trim was neat and well fitted.

When I took over the driving at Coventry I was not very familiar with part of the route. Strange territory causes the driver to pay particular attention to the route, thus, perhaps, not quite so much to setting himself up for each move. It was in these circumstances in parcicular that I found the gearchange mechanism on the vehicle unwieldy. It would baulk at engaging second gear in particular; four times out of five I found myself overrunning a junction in neutral through being completely foiled in my attempts to engage second. Provided there was no attempt to rush the gearchanging once on the move, all the other ratios dropped in fairly well until the odd frustrating occasion, when these too became difficult.

It might be claimed that it is all a matter of use, but I don't support the view that the effort required to overcome the baulking mechanism is acceptable just because one has become used to it.

The route from Broadway to Stowon-the-Wold takes in Fish Hill, a 1 in 13 average gradient with several nasty bends in it. So far as the Bedford was concerned, it was a mere pimple, for the vehicle romped up it in second and third gears, never dropping below 19 mph.

We passed through the small town of Burford and out on to A40 making for Oxford and High Wycombe. 1 was now on very familiar territory, this being part of the Associated Motorways Eastlander route used by CM for operational trials on other coaches in the past.

Given its head, the YRQ makes no effort of trunk road travel. It takes most main road hills in its stride and third and fourth gears provide adequate acceleration for overtaking. On A40 as with many, other roads of its type, the ability to overtake quickly is one of the most important assets a vehicle can have.

The excellent ride characteristics of the vehicle were evident on A40. Much of this road between Burford and Oxford has recently been or is being widened and repaired but is not yet resurfaced. Ruts and joins in the surfaces seemed to have no effect on the steering at any speed and when coming suddenly on rough sections, the suspension ironed them out very well.

Fuel consumption round the circuit was excellent and consistent. The vehicle had returned 12.975 mpg on M1 travelling at an average speed of 64 mph. On the stretch from Coventry to Minster Lovell, mostly made up by second-class A roads, it returned 14.1 mpg and on the last stretch from Minster Lovell to Hemel Hempstead —crossing the Chiltern Hills—consumption worked out at 13.8 mpg. Average speeds for the last two sections worked out at 34.0 mph and 32.6 mph respectively, and the overall average speed was 39.6 mph for an overall fuel consumption of 13.6 mpg.

The test vehicle was not fitted with power steering and personally I did not find this necessary. But power steering is available as a special option added by , the dealer at present and will later be included as a factory option. As tested, the Bedford YRQ with the Duple 45-seat Viceroy body costs £.7182.

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